We saw the Prince of Wales from our window!

Prince of WalesFrom the window in our humble cement block motel (expensive but humble) we could see the Prince of Wales. Not the man doomed to be known as William’s father the royal environmentalist Charles, the Canadian hotel that our daughter Leigh was sure had once been Cinderella’s home.

We spent Labor Day weekend in Waterton, Alberta CA hiking ourselves to exhaustion because it is SO beautiful. Once you make the 7 hour drive from Spokane you can easily access mountains, lakes, waterfalls and nuisance deer. Midwesterner’s will recognize the town of Waterton as Mackinac Island without the fudge. The Prince of Wales is the Grand Hotel they don’t charge to sit on the porch but they do serve High Tea. Waterton has bike rentals, boat trips but also cars and a huge campground.

Waterton from Bear’s Hump

Saturday we hiked about 8 miles to two lakes. It was 36 degrees when we started our hike at 9:30am. Luckily we started by hiking up Akamina Pass so we warmed up pretty quickly. The top of the pass had all kinds of markers letting us know we were entering British Columbia as if making it out of Alberta was a big deal.  I expected some some ranger to jump out and ask for my passport but the ranger’s cabin  was closed. From the main trail the hike up to Forum Lake was the longest 2K I ever hiked. We kept telling ourselves it’s kilometers not miles so even though the trail is straight up we can do it. There is a beautiful waterfall on the way up so I insisted that Dennis take a lot of pictures so I could catch my breath.

We chatted with a young couple from Lethbridge who asked us if we were going to climb the ridge above the lake. At first we were uncertain but when we saw the ridge Dennis and I said “No!” in unison.

Ridge above Forum Lake

 Wall Lake turned out to be the easiest hike to an alpine lake we ever had. Someone had pushed a double wide baby jogger up the trail. It felt like large families had hiked up the 3+ miles to hold reunions. As we ate our lunch two girls came by and admired a huge black “insect not a bug because it has 6 legs” I’d left sitting on a rock by my feet. One threw it in the water but I shamed them into rescuing it with a leaf when “insect” didn’t swim. 

“Insect NOT bug”

 After dinner we hiked around the Waterton campground which is huge with both tents and trailers. I think Canadians must be a pretty hardy lot because the temperature was getting down to the 30’s at night. Too cold for me to enjoy camping.

Sunday we hiked to Summit Lake and then we decided to hike up Carthew Ridge which must have been at least 9 miles round trip. It was exhausting and scary going up and down but well worth it when we saw the panorama of mountains and lakes. I always wish I had learned how to use that panoramic picture feature on my phone camera but once you are up there with the frigid wind blowing around you really don’t want to be reading phone help screens. I’m not sure how I can ever be quite as satisfied walking  south hill bluff after experiencing such beautiful scenery along with the adrenaline rush of looking below my feet and seeing the steep gravel hill drop almost straight down.

It was a four star vacation. Our days were cloudless and it got as warm as 74 which is more than you can hope for considering the altitude and the season. This was very unlike our Independence Creek backpack where we only saw 7 people all weekend and only one person spoke part of a sentence as she whizzed by on her bike. Friendly loquacious Canadians (I counted license plates and 98% from Alberta) were on every trail. I think Dennis’s with his Scandinavian sensibilities did not really appreciate their chattiness . They asked us where we were from, thanked us for visiting Canada, asked us for hiking advice, offered us shuttle service and told us their hiking histories. Even a group of deaf hikers tried to speak with us.

It was a really nice trip but we are afraid to look up the Canadian exchange rate it might dim the afterglow to know what our Waterton excursion really cost us. 

  Here is the link to ALL pictures

Bearmountain Lodge formerly El Cortez motel


2 responses to “We saw the Prince of Wales from our window!

  1. Enjoyed the story and the pictures. Sounds like you really did some hiking to get those great views.

    • Yes, we really put in some miles but we weren’t anywhere near as sore as we were after backpacking six miles along Independence creek. That surprised us.

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